Cabinet has approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 to protect rights of women and children. Pic Courtesy- Unicef India
Cabinet has approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 to protect rights of women and children. Pic Courtesy- Unicef India

India’s new stringent law reinstate its leadership position among South Asian countries to combat trafficking

With promulgation of a new stringent law, India is all set to reinstate its leadership position among South Asian countries to combat trafficking. Trafficking in human beings is the third largest organised crime violating basic human rights. There is no specific law so far to deal with this crime. Accordingly, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 has been prepared. The Bill addresses one of the most pervasive yet invisible crimes affecting the most vulnerable persons especially women and children.

Trafficking is a global concern also affecting a number of South Asian nations. Amongst them, India is now a pioneer in formulating a comprehensive legislation. UNODC and SAARC nations are looking forward to India to take lead by enacting this law.

The Bill has been prepared in consultation with line Ministries, Departments, State Governments, NGOs and domain experts. A large number of suggestions received by the Ministry of WCD in hundreds of petitions have been incorporated in the Bill.  The Draft Bill discussedin regional consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bombay with various stakeholdersincluding over 60 NGOs. The Bill was examined and discussed by Group bf Ministers also.

The Bill addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue and rehabilitation. Herein, aggravated forms of trafficking are covered, which includes trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage etc.
The bill also advocates punishment for promoting or facilitating trafficking of person which includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements; orcommits fraudfor procuring or facilitating the acquisition ofclearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.
Among other salient features, herein the confidentiality ofvictims/ witnesses and complainants will get aptly addressed by not disclosing their identity. Further the confidentiality of the victims is maintained by recording their statement through video conferencing (this also helps in trans-border and inter-State crimes).

In addition to time bound trial and repatriation of the victims – within a period of one year from taking into cognizance, the bill also advocates immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The Victims are entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma etc. and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet.

Rehabilitation of the victim which is not contingent upon criminal proceedings b

eing initiated against the accused or the outcome thereof. Rehabilitation Fund created for the first time. To be used for the physical, psychological and social well-being of the victim including education, skill development, health care/psychological support, legal aid, safe accommodation,etc.

In order to break the organized nexus, both at the national and international level, the Bill provides for the attachment & forfeiture of property and also theproceeds for crime. Punishment ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh. The Bill comprehensively addresses the transnational nature of the crime. The National Anti-Trafficking Bureau will perform the functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations; international assistance in investigation; facilitate inter-State and trans-border transfer of evidence and materials, witnesses and others for expeditingprosecution; facilitate inter-state and international video conferencing in judicial proceedings etc.



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